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Jayson Richard Gowan Werth
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 190 lb.
- High School Glenwood High School (Chatham)
- Debut September 1, 2002
Jayson Werth comes from an impressive athletic family. His stepfather, Dennis Werth, played in parts of four seasons (1979-1982) with the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals and his mother, Kim Schofield Werth, competed in the U.S. Olympics Trials in the long jump and 100 meter dash. His father, Jeff Gowan, played a year in the minor leagues after having a fine college football career. His grandfather, Dick "Ducky" Schofield, played 19 years in the Majors as an infielder while his uncle, Dick Schofield, played 14 years in the Majors, also as an infielder, and was the 3rd overall pick in the 1981 amateur draft.
Unlike his uncle and grandfather, Werth is a big outfielder with power, while they were slap-hitting shortstops with good gloves. Like them however, Werth is considered a fine athlete and has solid speed.
Werth had his first solid campaign as a major league hitter with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, when he hit 16 homers and drove in 47 runs with a .262 average in only 87 games as a part-time rightfielder, then added a double and two homers in four games in the NLDS. After a down year in 2005, in which he hit only .234, he was out of the major leagues in 2006, missing the entire season with an injury, then re-emerged as the starting right fielder with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007, hitting .298 in 94 games. He finally became a star in 2008, the year the Phils won the second World Championship in their history, when he hit 24 homers and drove in 67 runs in 134 games. In 2009, he made the All-Star team on the strength of 36 homers and 99 RBI in 159 games as the Phillies returned to the World Series. In 2010, he continued his solid hitting, this time leading the National League with 46 doubles, while adding 27 homers and 87 RBI with a .296 average. Over the four seasons in Philadelphia, he hit .282/.380/.506 with 85 homers as the Phillies made the postseason all four years. He slugged 8 doubles and 11 homers during those money games, and generally was a key member of a power-hitting line-up, coming up as a right-handed bat counter-balancing lefties Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez.
On December 5, 2010, Werth signed a 7-year free agent deal worth $125 million with the Washington Nationals. The deal came a few days after Adam Dunn had left the Nationals as a free agent, and was surprising in being for so many year given Werth's age at the time - 31, and his status as a late bloomer. Indeed, his first season in Washington in 2011 was not an easy one. He slumped to .232 in 150 games, hit 20 homers and drove in only 58 runs. He was off to a much stronger start in 2012, and was hitting .271 with 3 homers and 12 RBI in 26 games when he broke his wrist trying to make a sliding catch in the outfield in a game against his former team the Phillies on May 6th. The injury meant that he would be out at least six weeks, during which time the Nats' young phenom, Bryce Harper, who had made his major league debut only a week before, was to take his place. This created more question marks for Werth's future, as the injury gave the supremely-talented Harper the chance of grabbing on to the starting spot in right field. He was back in the line-up on August 2nd, playing centerfield and going 1 for 3 with an RBI in a 3-0 Nationals win over his former team. He finished the season with a solid batting line of .300/.387/.440 in 81 games, with 21 doubles and only 5 homers. His most important hit of the year came in Game 4 of the NLDS on October 11th, however. With the score tied at one, he led off the bottom of the 9th against Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals and after an epic 13-pitch at-bat, hit a walk-off home run to force a decisive fifth game.
Werth was hitting .260 with 4 homers after 27 games in 2013 when he went on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring on May 3rd; he was scheduled to return to action on May 20th but suffered a setback, spending another two weeks out of action. The time lost cost him a chance at being an All-Star for the second time, because otherwise, his numbers were as good as ever. In July, he was named the NL's Player of the Month for the first time on the strength of a .367 average, 7 homers and 22 RBIs in 27 games. He ended the season at .318/.398/.532 with 25 homers and 82 RBIs. His OPS+ of 154 was the highest of his career. In 2014, he started the season slowly, but got on track once again in July, winning the Player of the Month Award for the second straight year, on the strength of a batting line of .337/.446/.687, with 11 doubles, 6 homers and 24 RBI. He finished the year with a .292 average, 16 homers and 82 RBIs in 147 games, coupled with 37 doubles, 83 walks and 85 runs scored, for another excellent season. The Nationals ran away with the NL East title, but he was shut down in the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants, as were many of his teammates, being limited to 1 hit in 17 at-bats as the Nats went down in four games. After the season, he was sentenced to ten days in jail for having been caught driving his Porsche at over 100 mph on the Capital Beltway on July 6th. He also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in January, having hurt it making a catch the previous August.
Werth had trouble getting untracked at the start of 2015, as he was hitting only .208 with 2 homers and 12 RBIs after 27 games. His season took a turn for the worse on May 15th when he was hit on the left wrist by a pitch by San Diego Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne. The injury immediately put him on the disabled list, but the Nationals were hopeful it was only a contusion. However, a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where he underwent a CT scan on May 28th brought some bad news, as two small fractures were discovered. The initial prognosis was that he would be out of action until August. He came back on July 28th, then played regularly the rest of the way, giving him a total of 88 games. He hit only .221 however, with 12 homers and 22 RBIs. His OPS+ of 84 was his lowest since his days with Toronto. As a result, the Nationals were not sure what to expect from Jayson in 2016, but he went back to being a productive player, if no longer dominant. In mid-season, he tied the club record of reaching base in 43 consecutive games, a record that had been set by Ryan Zimmerman. On August 18th, he extended the streak to 46 games, tying the franchise record set by Rusty Staub back in the days of the Montréal Expos. In 144 games, he hit .244 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs, then went 7 for 18 (.389) with 2 doubles and a homer as the Nats were defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series.
Werth returned to Washington in 2017 to play out the 7th and final season of his contract. He continued his steady decline, being limited to 70 games and hitting just .226 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs. He went 3 for 18 in the postseason, as Washington once again lost at the Division Series stage, this time to the Cubs. Having completed his 15th big league season at 38, Werth was no longer in a position to seek a lucrative deal through free agency, and the very slow market for free agents that winter did not help him at all. He was unsigned when spring training started, and while he had not yet given up on the idea of playing another year, he was taking things philosophically: "This is the first spring break of my life. I've always been playing and going to spring training, so this is it." He was using the free time to enjoy spending time with his children and watching them play, for a change, particularly son Jackson, 16, who was now a high school freshman.
- NL All-Star (2009)
- NL Doubles Leader (2010)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2008-2011 & 2013)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2009)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2010)
- Won a World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008
- Steve Gardner: "After Game 5 loss, likely the end of an era for Jayson Werth, Nationals", USA Today Sports, October 13, 2017.